Monday, 28 June 2010

The Bleeding Heart





“My heart is thudding in my chest but  I know I should remain strong but  I am scared of dying.


My name is Nilufar Gholami, I am Karimi Gholami’s daughter and today is my last day on earth. I will be executed under Sharia law for committing adultery. All the people from my village in this great country ‘Iran’ with gather to see me die. I have committed no crime but yet I will be punished for it. The village council and Judge Rashidi have declared the sentence of ‘Death by Stoning’. My father wishes to save the family’s honor by sacrificing my life as he is ashamed of me.


I was kidnapped and raped by Saeed, my own brother-in-law as he was not happy with my sister . My father was angry with me, as I have tainted the family name, he beat me up and I begged him for forgiveness. I said I was sorry for what had happened and accepted my mistake. My father appealed to the village council to have me stoned to death for committing adultery. Saeed was awarded 200 lashes for his crime”.


As I listen to Nilufar’s story, I can feel my eyes moistening. My chador is wet with the tears that continue to fall unabated. Her story is heart wrenching and I have no power to change her fate and save her. Women in my country have no rights, they are worse off than animals. I have come to the village of ‘Shraza which is 200 kilometres from ‘Qom’ in Iran,  to meet  Nilufar, when I came to know of her. This small village with a population of just 150 people is getting ready for one of the biggest events they have seen in recent times. There is a kind of urgency and cruel passion which I can see in the eyes of men who have judged Nilufar’s fate.


Nilufars’s mother Farzana came in the room wiping her nose on her chador. She started combing Nilufar’s hair to tame the unruly mane, I could see that her eyes are red and her hands are shaking as she combs her daughter’s hair. She smiles and scolds her daughter as if they are bantering about normal everyday house work. 


I stepped out of the room to give mother and daughter some private moments before the unspeakable crime is to take place. In the courtyard, I see that women from the entire village have gathered to show their support and sympathy. They know that their own life is not theirs but is owned by their fathers,brothers, husbands, sons and other male members of their family. I see my aunt sitting with them, her eyes are closed and she seems to be praying.


I am bound to these women by culture and religion. My own upbringing has been liberal and I am married to a man who believes in Women's Rights as much as I do. I am an activist for women’s rights and we are fighting against religious fundamentalism in Iran. The struggle is an uphill battle against corrupt judiciary and the stern patriarchal society. 


The door opened and Farzana stepped out of the room covering her head with the chador. Nilufar is wearing a beautiful blue Shalwar Kameez with embroidered sleeves. Her face is radiant but her eyes are swollen because of crying.  She is holding her mother’s hand as she steps out of the house. The women follow them on the street like a sea of black chadors. I am walking with Farzana and Nilufar as they head towards the centre of the village. All along the road, men, young and old have lined up to celebrate the spectacle of death.
The crowd moves at a languorous pace through the lanes lined by stone houses on both sides and stops when we reach the village mosque. I see a few men standing on the steps of the mosque and I can hear a few stifled sobs behind me.


A man in a black suit with a beard speaks up, he says ‘Nilufar Gholami, we have received a complaint from your father Karimi Gholami that you have committed ‘Zina’ under ‘Hudud’ ordinance of  Sharia Law. We have four witnesses who have seen you commit this terrible act. The witnesses are your father, your brother, your uncle and your cousin. Hence, by the power vested in me as a judge of this village and the head of council, you are hereby sentenced to death by stoning. Do you have anything you wish to say?”


Nilufar stared at her father with anger and betrayal in her eyes, she kept quiet but held on to her mothers hand. I could hear the other women sobbing behind me and  I saw Farzana  hugging her daughter and I heard her say ‘Be strong my darling, Jannat awaits you’. My heart is galloping and I am choked up with unshed tears, words fail me and I just give Nilufar a tight hug. When death is imminent, would any words I say make a difference ?


Two men approach Nilufar and drag her away from her mother. They tie her hands behind her back and walk her to the village centre. Farzana looks pale and feverish and I am afraid that she will faint any moment. One of the women is holding her as they walk with the crowd. I can see that there is excitement in the air, it feels as if a carnival has come to the Village. The boys have never seen a stoning before and are excited, they do not understand the gravity of the situation.


We all come to a halt in front of a huge pile of stones.I know the law states that “size of stone should not be large enough to kill the person by one or two strikes, nor should they be so small that they could not be defined as stones". I see boys and men picking up stones in both hands and weighing them by bouncing them up and down. I can see that a small pit has been dug up, some meters away from the stone pile. All the while I feel I have been caught in a nightmare and all this will disappear once I open my eyes.



Nilufar  has a resigned look on her face. She cries out ‘I love you Mama’ before her voice is cut off. She is wrapped up tightly in a white sheet which covers her from head to her waist and is made to stand in the pit. We can now see her from chest up with a white cloth covering her face. The men fill up the pit and now Nilufar looks like a ghost stuck in the earth.


I am standing next to the wailing women.  There is chatter in the air and Judge Rashidi starts the proceeding by throwing the first stone. It bounces off harmlessly and does not reach Nilufar. I can see Karimi Gholami standing ramrod straight with a proud look on his face. A youngish chap hurls the next stone which hits  Nilufar and I can hear her muffled cry. Farzana faints and all of us rush to her side. I can now hear the persistent cries of Nilufar as the stones find their mark and draw blood from the fragile flesh. We carry Farzana to a nearby house to revive her, we pour water on her face and she opens her eyes.


I leave Farzana with the other women and rush back to the scene of the crime. The sight which meets my eyes is one which will remain imprinted on my brain for my entire life. I can see that the white sheet has turned completely red, there are stones coated with blood lying all around and the figure under the sheet is lifeless and quiet. The crowd has thinned and only the over zealous are still pelting stones at the lifeless figure. My stomach heaves and I vomit after I see this gruesome picture. I run back to Farzana with tears down my eyes and sobs pounding my throat, I seek out my aunt and cry in her arms. I cry till my tears run dry and there is nothing left in me. Another innocent is dead.


Once upon a time my country ‘Persia’, was the centre of culture and art , it was world famous for its language, it is one of the oldest continuous civilization. Now ‘Iran’, is famous for its religious fundamentalism and crime against women. The world looks on mute as more and more people die for committing minor offences in my country. the life of a woman is of no value.


My heart fills with rage and sorrow and only questions remain… When will this brutality end?  When will people realize that stoning anyone to death is a crime? When will they stop hiding behind religion to commit these heinous acts?


All I am left with is this quote :


“Don’t act like the hypocrite
Who thinks he can conceal his wiles
While loudly quoting the Koran.”
-Hafez, 14th Century Iranian Poet.



Authors Note:
This is a work of fiction. I have drawn from many resources while writing this story.


Zina  in Islam is extramarital sex and premarital sex. Islamic law prescribes punishments for Muslim men and women for the act of Zina.


In Islamic law or Sharia, hudud usually refers to the class of punishments that are fixed for certain crimes that are considered to be "claims of God." They include theft, fornication, consumption of alcohol, and apostasy.


A chādor or chādar is an outer garment or open cloak worn by many Iranian women in public spaces; it is one possible way in which a Muslim woman may follow the Islamic dress code known as ḥijāb. A chador is a full-length semicircle of fabric open down the front, which is thrown over the head and held closed in front. It has no hand openings or closures but is held shut by the hands or by wrapping the ends around the waist.


Stoning people to death is a crime against humanity. It  still happens in many Islamic countries all around the globe under the guise of religion. In most of these cases the victim is a woman whose human and civil rights are violated and she never receives a fair trial. India has a a different version of crime against women in the form of ‘Honor Killings’.
Amnesty International’ and ‘Stop Stoning’ are working since many years in raising awareness about Human rights violations and violence against women.



40 comments:

injaynesworld said...

What a powerful piece of work. The world needs to hear stories about this barbarism and you told this won with passion and grace.

Shilpa said...

Very inhuman.. and sad to know that such practices still exist!!!

wannabauthor said...

LP, I have been feeling depressed ever since i read this..n plus it a monday. What a cruel world it is! n dat picture is very raw in my memory..shudder!!!

Guria said...

Powerful and shocking portrayal!
All the Best....

The Holy Lama said...

What a bautiful piece! You've captured the pain and wnting in the lives of those women who are helpless against a society that strangulates them.

Superb. Not a word more not a word less, each chosen and used to perfection.

Shilpa Garg said...

Riveting, gripping and gruesome crime story!! Very sad and tragic tale. How barbaric could people be??!!
Very well narrated.
All the very best for the contest!
Cheers :)

magiceye said...

wow wow wow!!!!
am speechless!
superb piece of work!

Aparna said...

Shock. Horror. Shame.
Such barbarism still exists in our world in the name of honour and religion. It is pathetic.
Very gripping story. All the best for the contest.

bollywoodstylediaries said...

This is so shocking. Cant even believe what the mother must have gone thru..Thanks for the links to "Stop Stoning" and "Amensty".. This way I can feel I am doing something..

Meira said...

Such a terrible practise :(
Very gripping narration

Anjali said...

What a heart wrenching story. Such despicable crimes are committed in the name of religion.

Beautifully written.

Parth J Dave said...

Wow! What a heart-rendering and riveting story! The words carry so much pain... very well written!

Definitely one of your best blog entries!

All the best for the contest, Vinita! :)

evanescentthoughts said...

Such a sad tale :( But looks like you have done a lot of research for this post. The author's notes was really helpful. I was not aware of all of those terms. Simply one your best ones LP. Read it yest itself and loved it.

Shweta said...

That is the most moving and powerful piece of short fiction I have read in recent times. It's shaken me to the core.
'Well done' seems so paltry in the face of your writing.

Shweta

Smitha said...

It brought tears to my eyes, Vinita. The kind of society that stones the victim of a rape, and allows the rapist go scot-free(almost), is inhuman, I can't even think of a word to describe them.

I have read books on this, and the condition of women in such places is so pathetic. They have no voices at all. Iran, until a few years ago, was a much more liberal country, it all changed when the Shah was over thrown, I believe. That is when the Islamic republic came into existence as it is now..

Such a beautifully written story, Vinita! All the best!

Sweta said...

very nicely narrated...
I am feeling sad and angry about this whole thing happening to women.

pallavi said...

Excellent post... shook me up a bit, as this does 'real' and not mere fiction!!!

zephyr said...

what a stark piece of writing! LP, you have excelled yourself with this. The words are so potent that they leave one shaken and as nauseated as the narrator. All the best for the contest.

pushpee said...

You have narrated very well Vinita..what good it is to be born in such a world where cruel human decide the punishment?

Sowmya said...

Riveting piece. Very moving and brought a lump to my throat as I read it. All the best..

Sowmya
http://www.buzzzstop.com/

pawan said...

Chilling!
Had me in tears in the end. Will the men ever realize that even women have a life?

And I must say, brilliant post.

Phoenixritu said...

This has really shaken me up. And I live where Khaps have their say ~~ so am no stranger to women suffering atrocities. Am finding it difficult to comment even

hitesh rawat said...

another of your amazing works.......and another one i loved.........don't know what kind of research work you do....which brings so much of life to the characters in the stories.........

Leo said...

hey lazy pineapple, u know, this was the first post i read on monday morning, just before i went to work. the impact it had was such that i couldn't think of anything else till i reached. the narration was so simple, yet so powerful and touching! the author's note helped me understand it better too. the personal approach worked... i think this is one of the best posts on honor killing i've read. all the very best for BPL Super 4..

Sreyoshi Dey said...

in tears!
all i can say, and want to say is,we have to work against such criminal acts in the name of God! not just read their stories...but know how to bring an end to such stories too

Lazy Pineapple said...

Jayne: Thank you..this means a lot and I agree with you..

Shilpa: Unfortunately they do...even in India we have horrible rituals

Wannabauthor:I know..I could not sleep the day I wrote this story :(

Lazy Pineapple said...

Guria: Thanks :)

THL: Wow, many thanks for your praise...I am glad you liked it..

Shilpa: It is indeed tragic..this barbarism sill continues..

Deepak: Thanks..This is the story of so many women in the world :(

Parth: Thanks dear..

Aparna: Thanks so much..

Sonali: I know..all this is so depressing :(

Meira: Thank you..

Anju: So true :(

Evanescentthoughts: Thanks a ton for your praise..yes I did work quite hard to write this post...and am happy that the authors note were of help...

Shweta: Ahh thanks for your kind words...a reader makes a writer..without your comments
I would not be motivated..to write :)

Smitha: Even I was sleepless the day I wrote it...
the truth is always hidden..these days we come to know because media updates are quick...
I was shaken up when I did the research for this post...

Sweta: Ditto...am angry too..

Pallavi: even though this story is fictitious...in reality there is a Nilufar somewhere in some corner of the world :(

Zephyr: Thank you for your kind words...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Pushpee : It is such a sad truth :(

Sowmya: Thank you...

Pawan: Thanks...it had the same effect on me when I was writing it...

Ritu: It is a sad truth and quite difficult to digest it...

Hitesh: Thanks re...I went crazy digging up news articles for this story..and each one was horrifying...

Leo: Thanks..I am glad my writing had this impact...I wish people who actually do this realize it...that it is cruel..

Sreyoshi: Sometimes, the culture of a place is so deep rooted..they don't realise that they are doing anything wrong by killing someone..

Kshitij said...

I like this post Vini. Great job on the research.

Karthik said...

It shook me up really. It's such a sorry state of affairs really.
Very effective writing indeed.
All the best!

Laxmi Gopa said...

This was so deeply disturbing...i felt the hair standing up on the back of my neck.
Good going LP, you made me feel like I was right there watching it happen - I feel too shaken up right now.

MiSh said...

What a powerful piece of literature Vinita. I am speechless. After a point I felt that you have _actually_ witnessed this and this is not a piece of work by some 3rd person. Reminds me of Khalid Hosseini's style of writing.
Now about the story - I had goosebumps reading the description of what is happening. I have actually seen a documentary on Fox History of such heinous crimes in Iran. And the sad part is the maulvis while describing this ritual take it very casually. They have the temerity to speak of this incident with a smiling face on camera. I don't want to sound like a religious fanatic so I'll stop here. But this whole thing makes me sick!
Keep writing. You have the power to move people emotionally! Love you!

Laxmi Gopa said...

Was too shaken up from reading to write much yest...I was brought up in Riyadh, SA and stoning is a common form of punishment there as well. One of my juniors in school became preg and her parents handed her over to the authorities...she was caned everyday till she gave birth and a week after she gave birth she was caned and then stoned to death.
The man who brought this upon her was the driver of the van she went to school in- a man thrice her age. He was caught and given a few lashes and then let go.
What is this supposed to say - Men can do anything, but women shouldn't stray?? The injustice of it all!!!

Indian Home Maker said...

Unbelievably cruel. I was hoping till the end that some miracle will save the girl...

Can't imagine how a father can hand over his own child for such a death, like Phoenixritu said Khaps in India come from the same thinking. In many cases these men get dowry for their daughters and her pregnancy must have brought such hopes to an end.

Last week I signed the petition to save a widow, a mother of two grown up sons from being stoned to death... It seems she had already received her lashings five years ago but was not being released still. Nothing happened to the man - he was free after some lashings.


Voted for this very disturbing but much needed post on Indiblogger...

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks IHM for voting for my post..
I was unable to sleep at night on the day I wrote this post...
These things happen so frequently all over the world...it is indeed quite sad :(

So unbelievable...to even think such barbaric acts still happen...brings a shiver down my spine..

Anonymous said...

This keeps happening and the world watches silently. If an American or anyone else from any democratic country says a word against this, the liberals accuse that person of being intolerant and bigoted. Not just stoning, there are public hangings, beheadings, amputations being carried out daily in the Islamic world, an evil colossus spanning 57 nations and headquartered in Saudi Arabia (Sunni) and Iran (Shia).

Who should we blame for these terrible offences? Sadly, the Left tells us that we should blame Bush and Cheney for all this.

Namrata Mahalingam said...

Shocking really!
Hard to believe that such inhuman acts still exist. Shame!
Flawless post.

Deepak said...

Hair raising cruelty. How far are our khaps? We are all in a state of regression. Sadly.

Lazy Pineapple said...

Thanks Namrata..unfortunately it still happens :(

Lazy Pineapple said...

Our Khaps are equally awful and instead of moving forward I feel we are still living in dark ages :(

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